Meet Nick, a bartender and tobacconist with an INCREDIBLE success story.
Nick’s journey started in a place that many can relate to:
- Nick found himself winded easily, anxiety ridden, and self conscious.
- He never made made time for his diet. He’d work through his morning and simply order whatever he thought would fill him up when he was hungry. Large pizzas, whole calzones, subs, energy drinks, and more.
- After work, Nick was too tired to making a healthy meal, and would simply graze or grab more of the great food above.
- Nick had anxiety issues, which, as he says, caused him to use “every excuse under the sun” not to take control of his life.
Last year this all changed, and Nick made a number of small changes that added up to an INCREDIBLE transformation.
Let’s take a look at what happened.
Nick gets a wake-up call
Last May everything changed for Nick – after a wedding weekend with friends he got into a bad car accident and ended up totaling his car.
Thankfully, nobody got hurt, but the event shook him:
“I remember the day I started everything. Two weeks prior I had an accident that ended up totaling my car. These pictures are still tough to look at. Without my seat belt I would have been a goner. Luckily, I came out unscathed, but I was stuck 5 hours away from home, with a busted phone, and had some quality time with my demons.
This was the catalyst that kicked off the want to improve myself.”
This was the wake up call that so many of us never get, and Nick didn’t waste it. Two weeks later Nick purchased the Rebel Fitness Guide (which has been reworked into the Nerd Fitness Academy), joined the Accountabilibuddy group “Rogue Squadron,” and dove straight into his first challenge on the forums.
As Nick puts it:
“I thought about it and then, I know it sounds weird, but on a whim I went out and bought myself a good pair of cross trainers and from the day the challenge started I jumped in feet first. With the previously unknown power of support, and a new mindset to working out, I was able to work myself into better shape.”
In the end, after years and years of status quo, it was was a mixture of wanting to be better himself, some gentle prodding from a friend, and this catalyst which made things happen.
Nick gets healthy
After the car crash Nick made a number of changes. At the start of his journey, Nick’s all time weight was 260.
But after friend directed him towards Nerd Fitness and the challenges, changes came quickly! One mindless decision almost derailed him:
“I kind of did the normal thing of looking at it, telling myself I was going to do it, and then passed on it. But the next day I really got serious and I figured I would check into it again. I rationalized buying the Rebel Fitness guide, and used it as a deposit for my future.”
Nick got started right away. He started workouts and began to reform his diet. He didn’t follow EVERYTHING verbatim, in fact he did variations of many of the suggested exercises – things he found worked better for him.
Nick didn’t know it, but he was following a lesson from Bruce Lee – by not sticking rigidly to any plan, he didn’t allow any small roadblocks to derail him. Instead, he found a way that worked for him and kept moving forward.
Soon, Nick found a more practical reason to get healthy:
My big breakthrough was when I found a real-world application for my weight loss. It was one day when I kind of struggled with wanting to go to the gym, and a friend of mine sent me a text to go hiking.
On a spur of the moment decision I went for it and we went for a hike. It kicked my ass but at the end of it I had never felt that alive, and it was something. Throughout the summer we kept pushing the limits and by the end of the summer we had added a peak of the mountain, and worked up the hike to just about 8 miles.
Nick started going to the gym three days a week: Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. But he enjoyed hiking so much that he made Wednesday a regular hiking day. Soon he wanted to hike on Friday as well, so he shifted some of his strength training to the weekend.
Nick quickly got immersed, doing everything little thing he could to “level up.” From dips and pushups on the go, to taking stairs two at a time, every little daily thing was turned into a mini exercise.
Meanwhile, Nick also revamped his diet, in what he says is the “most important aspect” of his success, after his support group.
Going from 3000 calories a day full of calzones and pizza, to an 80% Paleo diet, Nick made some serious changes. Although he eventually made this big change, he used small tweaks and small wins to get there.
Nick used subtle variations of items he was already eating, which, added up, allowing him to make big changes. At times he simply tried to be smarter about portion sizes, add vegetables where possible, and keep big carbs to a minimum.
He also started eating protein heavy breakfasts, and looked forward to “spoiling” himself with grass-fed beef in the evenings – but only on occasion. Instead of rewarding himself with pizza and falling into the same old unhealthy habits, Nick chose rewards which rewarded him back. And the best part? Nick loved it!
“Though I missed some pastas and other goodies, I didn’t really need them and I felt amazing.”
A year later Nick would find himself over 60 lbs lighter (and has managed to keep it off!).
Today Nick is a new man.
He’s got a handle on his anxiety, and finds himself with more energy and willpower each day.
But Nick isn’t a before and after – he’s a before and now. He continues to look forward, towards the next thing to level up his life. He hopes to enter into a Police Academy, and wants to delve into running while continuing his hikes.
The new Nick loves to keep active:
I try to do little things that attribute to a larger caloric burn throughout the day. Minor exercises like Squats, Pushups and even dips and leg lifts.
And originally, Nick followed our workouts only to completion – now Nick is always looking for ways to push the envelope:
My attitude to exercise has changed dramatically. It became addictive very quick. I started to naturally push myself, reaching for new heights and trying to best my old high scores as much as possible.
Originally I got discouraged with some of the exercises, believing I was doing them wrong. Then I started focusing on technique – it was kind of like putting skill points into those areas before I could unlock the ability within myself to do those exercises.
Nick is a full time player in his game of life. He even has set some new achievements for his own epic quest of awesome. Hiking Mount Washington or another similar hike (4000ft) is on the top of the list. He also wants to log at least 100 miles (or better) between running and hiking by October.
Steve: Hey Nick! You have an epic transformation…I know Optimus Prime would be proud! So, tell us a little more about your diet strategy.
Nick: Portion size was the biggest thing that helped me out in the beginning. I cut out a lot of stuff at once (with some leeway in areas), tracked everything I was eating, started making my own meals, and added a lot of the greens and healthier choices. I cut out cheese and bread and all the stuff I used to love.
I called my diet around 80% Paleo. Between my love of whisky and beer, and the occasional bit of cheese and bread and such, I found a happy medium.
Steve: What was the toughest change for you to make?
Nick: Portion size and staying active.
I was used to, at that point, just eating whatever was in sight. And that usually meant I was sedentary, only moving when I needed to get refills on my drink and seconds on whatever I was eating.
Steve: What do you think was the most important change you made that helped you succeed?
Nick: Mindset. Staying positive and saying that I could do things, rather than getting discouraged all the time and just quitting. There were a few rough spots, and I am still training myself to come to a different mindset. But it’s been a great ride.
Steve: Tell me about your support system. The boards were big, but who else helped keep you on track?
Nick: Everyone. The first time someone mentioned how great I looked, and how they were proud of me, it electrified me and acted like a stamina potion and kept me going.
My friends were a big part. Particularly the one that pulled me into Rogue Squadron on the NF Boards, and Rogue Squadron themselves. I wasn’t terribly active, but I read their posts and they really kept me going.
Steve: Have you tried and failed to get healthy before in the past? What made this time different?
Nick: I made half attempts to change my diet, and I got a membership to the gym, which I never used. This time around, I think the love of my family and the support of my friends (plus the exasperation at myself for not doing it sooner) had finally pushed me over the edge.
Steve: Welp, you’re now about to inspire a few hundred thousand folks: What would you tell somebody who is in your situation to help them?
Nick: Don’t worry too much about the small things. Don’t beat yourself up over a diet, and definitely don’t let your inner voice tell you not to try, because ‘you will just fail again’.
You have the power within you to do something great. I did it, but I didn’t do it alone. Seek out something, try one of the challenges on the boards, or even just read the progress of others. You would be amazed what a community of like minded individuals, who have been there before, can do to really help you along on your way.
Try to find your muse. Honestly I found that imagining everything that I wanted to do and each step as if it were a video game really helped. Unconsciously I took to grinding out those stats, and farming XP until I could level up to the next, more challenging part of the workout. You really do start to feel an energy, and a power grow within you as you continue to improve yourself.
Steve: Your physical appearance has changed…what else has changed about you?
Nick: I have more confidence. I have a lot more energy. I find that I am able to better deal with some of the anxiety issues now that I am more active. I also found that my creativity is coming back slowly but surely. I am starting to gain interest in what I thought was once lost to me. Between writing, drawing, and even reading and video games.
But most of all, it’s the way I see the world. I have less moments where I let the procrastinator inside of me let the day slip away while I can get something done.
Steve: Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
Nick: Definitely Star Wars if I had to choose one. I have been a huge fan for the better part of the last 15 years, reading a great deal of the Expanded Universe and generally keeping up to date on the goings on of my favorite characters.
Steve: Favorite video game of all time?
The Legend of Dragoon.
Steve: If you could have any superpower in the world, what would it be, and why?
Nick: I know it sounds corny, but I would really like the ability to heal others. Last year saw a lot of close friends and family struggle with some health issues, and I wish I could just make people healthy. To be able to reduce the suffering and pain of someone appeals to me more than anything else.
Why Nick was successful
In just one year Nick managed to completely transform himself and his outlook on life. Let’s take a look at why Nick was successful:
- Support team – If there’s one thing you should take away from Nick’s story, it’s that his epic support team kept him going. From friends, family, to message boards, his support team was what made “this time” different. Nick credits the community with a lot of his success. If you lack a support team, check it out!
- Nick forged his own path – Nick found a combination of ways to stay active that worked for him. He used both strength training AND hiking – a passion he discovered during his transformation that kept him looking forward to moving more. Are you stuck doing exercises you don’t enjoy? Then stop! Find something you DO enjoy.
- Nick made big changes to his diet, but did so slowly – Nick focused on big wins in his diet. He minimized carbs, focused on getting good sources of protein, and made healthy tweaks to traditional meals. Nick put a serious emphasis on diet, because as we say, it will be responsible for 80-90% of your success.
- Nick saw life as a game – Nick fully embraced the life as a game mindset; he used it to keep him motivated and coming back, and he had fun doing it. He WANTED to workout because it was an opportunity to level up. He LOOKED FORWARD to finding ways in which he could tweak and improve his diet. He even found himself doing random bodyweight exercises throughout his day – he enjoyed the grind that much. Don’t underestimate the power of looking at every workout as an opportunity for a stat boost or XP grind.
- Nick chose rewards which reward him back – Nick didn’t celebrate a successful day’s workout with a large cheese pizza or bag of cheetos. Instead he found ways to celebrate his success in ways that supported his quest. Just like leveling up video game, as he leveled up he allowed himself to acquire items that helped him defeat bigger and badder bosses (rather than sabotaging his own progress!).
Become the next success story
This is my favorite part of Nerd Fitness – to watch regular people from around the world take control of their health and their lives.
We all come from different places and are playing this game of life on different difficulties, but we all have one thing in common:
We want to be better tomorrow than we were today.
We’ve all had crappy days where we don’t feel like working out or can’t “see the point” of trying. But Nick, like many others, found a way to push through and find a path to his new, leveled up self.
Feel free to leave a comment of congratulations or a question for Nick, and if you are struggling with these very same issues, start!
I can’t wait to get an email from you with YOUR success story, and share it with the 1.5 million visitors that visit Nerd Fitness each month.
You got this. Now get started!
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